Blog post,  Leadership,  Team performance

Creating team connection each week

During the “pandemic years”, there was much discussion about connecting teams in a hybrid environment.

While we have moved back to business as usual, I think we can admit how we work has changed. Many teams have ‘work from the office days’ or other opportunities for their team to connect. However, I know many leaders are starting to struggle to create forums that keeps their teams engaged and doesn’t feel stale.

I wanted to share how we do it at Elm.

We are a fully hybrid team. Everyone works where they want and when they want. We don’t have a traditional office space. It means we aren’t often in one place at the same time during the week.

Our key time to connect is every Monday morning. We get together as a team mostly in person at my house or a café, but if one of us is away, we move online.

These meetings are a chance to connect and get to know each other on a deeper level. Some weeks these meetings go for 30 minutes, others go for two hours.

If I am honest, they are pretty free flowing conversations but with a focus on what is happening this week and where we each need help.

Since Amy started, we have had a bit more structure (she is a facilitator after all). We start with an activity called rose, bud, thorn.

  • Rose = A great thing that happened last week.
  • Bud = An opportunity coming up this week
  • Thorn = A challenge you are facing.

It doesn’t have to be work related, but it’s a chance for us to focus on the good, the bad and the possibilities. It also challenges us not just to think about the to do list but to get a little deeper into our working week.

We end each meeting with either Britany Spears (for those of us who grew up in the 90s) or Taylor Swift (for the younger crew) tarot cards – to get some insights from the universe into what our week will be like. I know, I know, but it gets a lot of laughs every week.

In between, there are a lot of laughs, puppy cuddles, questions, advice, and discussions about TV shows and movies.

When I was in-house, I used to find this type of team meeting a bit tedious—the chit chat when I felt I already had a lot on my plate. I know others might feel like this is a waste of time. Who has two hours to spend chatting?

My opinion has definitely changed working in a hybrid team. I find this time is invaluable. What I learn on a Monday morning is not only who is busy and who has capacity, but who in my team is struggling this week and where we can each help. It is worth the time to put into it.

It is our chance to connect as a team, and we have a lot of fun doing it. I might be the least enthusiastic about the tarot cards, but the others love it, and that is important to me too. It helps to build the culture we want at Elm, where despite our differences and our life outside, work is a place we want to be.

Previously, the trend for team meetings was to have a standing meeting or give people time limits to move quickly through to do lists. I think we have moved on from efficient meetings (there are still a place for these!) to creating better opportunities to really share and support each other.

When team members have time to connect with each other on a personal level, it can lead to a number of benefits, including:

  • Increased trust: When people trust each other, they are more likely to be open and honest, to collaborate effectively, and to support each other.
  • Improved communication: When team members feel comfortable with each other, they are more likely to communicate freely and openly. This can lead to better problem-solving, decision-making, and teamwork.
  • Enhanced creativity and innovation: When team members have a strong rapport with each other, they are more likely to feel comfortable sharing ideas and taking risks. This can lead to increased creativity and innovation. We find some of our best ideas come out of our Monday meetings!
  • Boosted morale and motivation: When team members feel connected to each other and to the team as a whole, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated in their work. This can lead to improved productivity and performance.

These sessions are my rose. Every Monday morning, they are a high point of my week. If you have let these connection moments drop off, I encourage you to kick-start them again!

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